NAF Calls on Canadian Medical Association to Change their Abortion Referral Policy
The CMA should not allow physicians to treat abortion referrals differently than referrals for other health care services.
Today, the National Abortion Federation (NAF) sent a letter to the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) calling on them to change their policy of allowing physicians to refuse to refer patients for abortion services noting that, “a physician’s religious and moral beliefs should not jeopardize a patient’s access to needed care.” The complete letter follows:
Dear Dr. Colin McMillan, Dr. Louise M.C. Cloutier, and Dr. Jeff Blackmer:
The Canadian Medical Association’s (CMA) policy of allowing physicians to refuse to
refer patients for abortion services is a violation of CMA’s own Code of Ethics,
which requires physicians to first consider the well-being of the patient; to
practice medicine in a manner that treats the patient with dignity; to disclose
and resolve conflicts of interest in the best interest of patients; not to
discriminate against any patient on grounds such as gender or medical
conditions; and to provide patients with information they need to make informed
decisions about their medical care. Your policy treats women unfairly and
impedes women’s access to critical health care guaranteed through the Canada
As you know, abortion is a safe, legal, and insured service under the Canada Health Act and should be treated the same as all other medical procedures. In fact, all provinces and territories have recognized that abortion is a medically necessary procedure. A physician’s religious and moral beliefs should not jeopardize a patient’s access to needed care.
If doctors do not wish to refer and inform patients about their comprehensive medical options, including abortion care, then they should not participate in the public system. Refusing to refer women for abortion care could result in delays that could force women to have later abortions at an increased risk to their
Women in Canada deserve to have access to a full range of safe reproductive health care options. The CMA should not allow physicians to treat abortion referrals differently than referrals for other health care services. A patient’s needs must remain paramount.
The National Abortion Federation (NAF) is the professional association of abortion providers in Canada and the United States. Our members include health care professionals at clinics, doctors’ offices, and hospitals, who together care for more than half the women in both countries who choose abortion each year. We set the standards for quality abortion care in North America, and we have played a leading role in advocating for increased access to quality abortion care throughout Canada.
The National Abortion Federation calls on the Canadian Medical Association
to change your policy to come into compliance with your own ethical standards.
By not doing so, you abdicate your moral authority to set policies regarding
health care in Canada.